Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reconciling Two Ideologies in Jesus Christ

Growing up as a child, my father would repeat to me over and over again his belief that the overwhelming majority of conflicts between people originated from one initial problem: a lack of communication. This familial mantra had (and continues to have) a profound impact on my life. In fact, one might say that I have become somewhat hypersensitive to “miscommunication” in light of this teaching. Honestly, my nearly OCD attention to communication may have less to do with the “familial mantra” and more to do with the fact that while I was inculcated with this lesson early on in my life, I did not always see it lived out in our own home. While I believe my family did in fact value communication, it was not something always passionately lived out. 

I say all this because I have become increasingly aware of the ideological polarity between the generations that surround me and the “baby-boomer” generations. On one end of the spectrum lay the belief that life is preeminently lived through duty, obligation, and responsibility. On the other end of the spectrum lay the conviction that life is all about living according to one’s own desires and passions. One generation gravitates toward the objective measure of happiness in exclusion to the subjective, while the other embraces the subjective reality of life in exclusion to the objective. While this is an over-simplification of the generational differences, I believe the general conclusions are accurate.

Both generational ideologies are inadequate and are in need of redemption. In the process of excluding the subjective for the objective, the older generations have potentially diminished their ability to have genuine self-knowledge, inhibiting their ability to communicate themselves deeply, freely, and lovingly. Such relationships have a tendency to be stable but passionless. On the other hand, the younger generations have whole-heartedly embraced the subjective in rejection of the objective. This is the generation of “self-help” books which call the individual into deep introspection and self-knowledge.  Unfortunately, while full of passion, many relationships are incredibly unstable going through multiple breakups. The rejection of the objective has led to consumer-based relationships which is ultimately unfulfilling.

All of this may sound rather dismal and depressing, but there is GREAT news! St. Paul always would acknowledge the problem before proclaiming the solution from the rooftops. The problem has been articulated and now we await the solution which is here if only we are willing to receive it. We have been wrestling with the deeply personal problem between what we ought to do and what we actually feel like doing. However, in the beginning, it was NOT so (cf. Mat. 19.8). Our passions and the truth of our humanity were originally perfectly integrated, and Christ has come in the flesh to reintegrate our fleshly desires with the truth of our humanity.

Christianity is not some pie-in-the-sky dream, but rather a here-and-now reality of transformation. Christ desires to redeem our passions so that we may be free to love passionately all that is true, good, and beautiful. The ideologies above are genuine but inadequate solutions to the problem of our humanity. It is only in Christ that we will be able to be loved and to love others as we were created to love; passionately and with complete self-donation! The more we find ourselves before the Blessed Sacrament, the more this dream will become a reality. May God be Praised!

No comments: